Learning The Code


alec_icon.gif tallie_icon.gif

Scene Title Learning The Code
Synopsis Tallie's tutelage under Alec continues.
Date March 6, 2009

Alec's Apartment, Dorchester Towers

Alec steps from the bathroom with a towel around his waist and another in his hand, currently being used to rub his hair dry. He's all glisteny and pretty… and scarred. "Huh. Didn't think you were still here." he says, spotting Tallie, "Be a dear and fetch me some boxers while I shave? We'll start your lesson when I'm fully dressed."

It's Saturday morning. And early. She's still sprawled in his bed, where she slept alone, as he insisting on her having the bed while he did whatever he does the hours he does not actually sleep. She sits up. Her hair is a mass of those golden curls, the kind of ringlets that can only be tamed into submission with a lot of heat and a lot of work. "Morning," she murmurs groggily and swings her bare legs from bed. She's wearing one of his T-shirts, so it's long enough to come down to her knees. She stands and heads to a dresser, opening drawers until she finds the right one, and picking up a pair of boxers. She heads to the bathroom door to hand them to him. "Get enough sleep?"

Alec takes them and nods his head, "About three and a half, four hours." he states as if that were good. He slips the boxers on beneath the towel then tosses it into a hamper, leaving him just in the boxers, "You?" he asks as lather is applied to his face and he reaches for a razor.

She laughs a little as he puts the boxers on that way. "I coulda given you your privacy," she says with a nod toward the towel, though her eyes do flicker along his back a moment before returning to the reflection of his face in the mirror. The steam from the shower makes her own more-distant reflection a bit ghostly as she watches him. "All right," she says. "Comfortable bed." The first part is a lie — he probably heard her cry out a couple of times in nightmares.

Alec's back has more then a few scars, most noteably the dark bruised discolorations most think are caused by actual bruises, only a few with the knowledge to look could tell they were electrical burns from being shocked. There are also spider-web fine lines that run over his skin. It's hard to see them, faded and thin as they are, but if she were to get closer there would be more. On his leg there are four parralel burn marks near his calf, and in the mirror she can see the cut along his forearm, the little hooked scar near his nipple, the list goes on. Mostly small, faded, and old, he carries more then his fair share. "You have bad dreams." he says simply as he starts to shave, "And we're going to have to work on your lying skills…. but the bed is comfy."

Her eyes snap back to his face after beginning to wander again, and she frowns. "I didn't lie. I slept better than I usually did. I don't remember the dreams, anyway." She looks a little surprised at this. "I should get dressed," she mutters and turns away, pulling the door between the bathroom and the bedroom shut so that she can quickly dress without him watching. Apparently she's more modest than he is, anyway. "So what's the next lesson?" she calls a little louder so her voice travels through the door.

Alec smirks when she closes the door and wonders how she'll handle learning to quick change for a job with him. Should be amussing. He has no shame himself so… "What do you think we should make you pick up on? More pick pocketing? Cons? How about people. Shall we study people?"

She's finishing pulling over a sweater, giving a quick peek of a taut, trim belly between the hem and the waistband of her jeans before it's tugged down. Her head is a riot of curls, which she smoothes back into a ponytail, finding a band around her wrist to hold it together. "People, sure," she says with a nod. "Though you were wrong about me, remember," she points out with an impish grin. "And I was wrong about you."

Alec just smiles at her, "Well that would be the sort of question you'd have to work out for yourself. Was I wrong about you, or was I just running a con. After all was said and done you ended up where I wanted you, now didn't you?" he points out as he heads for the closet and picks out a pair of jeans which he tugs on before heading to sort through his t's looking for a decent one. He of course picks one that clings just a little and then covers that with a nice leather jacket. Not to warm, but not to light either, and all manner of worn.

Her eyes follow his movements, and she laughs a bit. "You were not conning me when you got all up on your soap box to tell me to lay off the drugs," Tallie points out. "You just didn't know what was going on. I don't blame you. I know I look like a weasel on speed when I've swiped too much energy from someone. I would have thought the same thing," she says with a grin.
Alec oh's, "Well yes, that much is true." he states with a nod. "I have to ask by the way, are you addicted to that?" he eyes her with a stare that's just all manner of spooky and 'I can see your soul' ish.

Her eyes narrow. "No," she says flatly. "I don't do it very often… when I do it on purpose, it's if I need to — to get through…" she trails off as she realizes that those words sound exactly like an addict's. She gives a weak smile. "I don't do it even once a week usually, deliberately. I sometimes do it … not deliberately, but only rarely — in stressful situations or something. And for self-defense, like you saw."

She pulls her shoes on and stands. She looks like she could be a very very short Gap model instead of a homeless girl for once. "The day you saw me in the deli, I'd taken a few… swipes… from people — not enough for them to even notice, because I still had a package to deliver on the far end of town. So I already had a near-full supply. Then someone bumped into me, and I grabbed someone for balance, and I accidentally took a bit more from them. Not enough to exhaust them, not like the guy in that alley. But that's why I was … weasel on speed." She blushes a little.

Alec nods his head, "Weasel on speed. Cute. Makes for a funny animated cartoon picture in my head." he grins and puts on shoes and gathers up his effects. Keys, wallet, that sort of thing. "Come on kiddo, lets see what you got." he heads for the door.

She heads out of the bedroom, grabbing her coat off the couch on the way out, slipping into it. "So you don't think it's bad? When I take energy? I try not to take it from anyone who can't spare it, when I do it deliberately. And I promise not to take it from you, not unless you wanted me to," she murmurs. There's an earnestness in her voice, an eagerness to please.

Alec chuckles, "Nothing is wrong or right but thinking makes it so." he says simply. "You do what you have to do to survive. What is wrong or right beyond that? I'm not sure anything is. If you ask me, the only truely wrong thing is taking a life that doesn't deserve it. I'm a thief, a criminal, a soundrel of the highest order, but I'm not a murderer. That's not to say I /wouldn't/ kill someone, but there'd have to be a damned good reason. After all, I might need them alive at a later date for something." he smiles at her and reaches out to tuck a strand of hair back from her face behind her ear. "Come on. Today I'm going to teach you how to see." and then he steps out and into the lobby. He heads for the door to the street.

She bites her lower lip as he makes that intimate gesture of tucking her hair behind her ear, but nods, following him quickly. Her hands burrow into her pockets in the chilly morning air. They must look like an unlikely pair. "I guess that's true. And anything can be validated with a reason to someone else, if that person's willing to believe them. And the same reason might be absolutely unacceptable to someone else. Morality is not a gray area… it's a rainbow."
Alec nods his agreement, "Which is why I ignore morality and instead opporate solely on a code of ethics." he pauses once they're outside the door and turns to look at her, "How many people were in the lobby, how many wore coats, what was the sex of the attendant, and what was the headline on the newspaper resting on the table just before the doors?" test time. ut-oh.

Tallie frowns. What! No warning! "Um," she says and closes her eyes, hands coming out of her pocket to count on her fingers for a moment. "I think maybe … eight. Nine, counting the attendant. Attendant was female. Doorman was outside already, holding the door for us, but he'd make … ten. Of the eight people who weren't working I think … maybe half of them were wearing coats. Wait. Make that five. Not counting doorman, but he was wearing one. And I didn't see the newspaper, I was looking at you," she says with a shrug.

Alec nods his head, "Thirteen people, you didn't count us or the girl headed into the bathroom when we entered. Seven were wearing coats, us again, and the paper read 'Administration Budget Conserns Voiced on Senate Floor'." he says evenly. "I need you to be observant of all things and never /look/ like that's what your doing. Make it habit to memorize everything you see, everywhere you go. You'll never be perfect, but that doesn't mean you get to stop trying to be." he smiles at her, "Don't worry, first time I had to answer those questions I was so wrong I got slapped."

"Well, I didn't count us," she says with a slight pout — she was almost right, after all! "Who was your teacher?" she asks curiously, glancing at him, then the street around them, trying to do what he says. She shakes her head. "I'm gonna run into a telephone pole," she says with a little laugh at the effort it takes.

Alec smirks, "That would depend on what part of my training you mean." he says as he chuckles at her words, "Learn to watch where you're going, but pay attention to things that happen on the periferary of your vision. I'll quiz you from time to time, randomly and without warning. It'll help you get your brain working right. And like those that taught me, I'm a big fan of the carrot and the stick method of instruction."

"The one who slapped you," Tallie replies, side stepping a homeless woman who looks hell bent on barreling down the sidewalk without a care for anyone in her wake. "And carrot and the stick? What are you dangling in front of me, Alec?" she asks, his actual name on her lips sounding a bit awkward — it might be the first time she's said it in casual conversation.

Alec smiles, "I can't give you her name, needless to say she was very good at what she did. She was an ex Intelligence opporater out of the Soviet Bloc, she taught me all about observations and survielence. Important in our line of work. As for your carrot, right now? Gratuitous amounts of sex." he teases playfully, "A glass of wine and a night off." he says more seriously, "The stick would be the opposite of that, which is to say, a 24 hour period of straight training."

"Haven't I been doing that?" she says with a chuckle. "Though I guess my mad skills in bicycling around town aren't part of training. Just part of the cover." She walks a few feet without a word, then smirks. "I don't drink wine. It'll have to be the sex," she says without looking at him, eyes sweeping the street casually. Dimples suggest she's kidding, and the joke means she's starting to trust him — and maybe even that she's starting to like his company. "So Henry Higgins, where are we going?"

Alec snorts at the name, "Right now? We're going to get coffee at this little bistro on the corner, where we can watch people without being obvious and I can teach you how to rightly judge wealth, influence, and dangers."

"Coffee is probably carrot enough," Tallie admits. "I'm easy," she says with a grin — never mind that she's been precisely the opposite of easy, and if he hadn't witnessed her ability, would probably not be here beside him at this moment. "People watching with a purpose. Sounds like fun."

Alec nods his head, "Yup… And I did notice you were easy. First night and I already had you in my bed." he makes a rimshot noise and air drums comically. Ahead the bistro appears and he heads for it.

Tallie laughs. "First night in a real bed since not long after the bomb. It was too much to resist," she points out, but a moment later her laughter fades as she apparently thinks back to those times, that bed, her losses. She's quiet as she heads into the Bistro, inhaling deeply of the scent of coffee, bagels, bacon.

Alec nods his head, "I know the feeling. Means the 1000 thread count cotton sheets I bought were worth it." he quips as he places his order for froo-froo coffee and then takes a seat at a table on the walkway.

She, on the other hand, orders regular coffee, but adds quite a bit of cream and sugar on her own at the supply counter. She slides into a seat across from him, sipping gratefully at her coffee. "It is a good bed," she says with a smirk. "I sleep on a sleeping bag on top of a futon mattress in the deli," she admits.

Alec nods his head, "Well soon enough we'll fix that. Okay, lesson one, things that identify a person of means are not always what you'd suspect. On most men it is shoes and watch, if both of those are of quality, then no matter what the man wears, it's more likely he has money. The style of shoe or watch will tell you if he also has power. With women it's the design of the clothes and how they move, purses are also a good help, but even a poor woman will buy nice shoes from time to time, so ignore those. With me so far?"

Tallie listens and nods. "Shoes and watches on men. Design and cut… flow… of women's, but shoes are misleading," she echoes. Her own feet are clad in black boots bought recently — nothing frivolous, but they keep her feet dryer than her old Converse. She nods to his watch. "I remember pointing that out on you," she says with a chuckle. "All right. And what if they have crappy shoes but a good watch? Thief or New Money?"

Alec shrugs, "Depends. Crappy shoes look comfy, or just crappy?" he asks pointedly, "Another good indication of wealth is if someone knows how to /wear/ nice shoes or the watch. It's about attitude as it is about substance. Now none of this is fool proof mind you. People are very image concious, but they're statistically a good way to make a fast judgement when you absolutely have to."

Sipping her coffee, she nods, her eyes moving from his face to the street outside the window. "So crappy watch, crappy shoes, probably not worth pickpocketing, might be worth conning?" she asks, eyebrows rising. "If they are desperate, and not honest, that is. But shoes and watches won't indicate honesty, no matter how nice, I'm guessing. There's not a particular brand that liars and cheats prefer. Gucci for thieves, Kenneth Cole for adulterers, and Armani for scammers?" she says playfully.

Alec smirks, "No. But alot of what I'm teaching you are things you need to learn early, things that you need to do automatically before you even consider the other things I'll teach you. I need you to be able to assess a persons importance, be able to pick their pocket, while being aware of your surroundings, and get away clean in less then a minute. I need to know that if I point at a guy and say 'steal his wallet', you can do all of this without being noticed or caught or known and trust that you can handle it so that I can take on potentially larger jobs."

Tallie listens and nods. "What happens if I get caught? Knock him out and run like hell?" she asks — it would be amusing to imagine that, except that, due to her power, she actually has the ability to do just that with just a touch. "I think not being noticed isn't too hard for me… I'm used to not being noticed," she says with a shrug. "The surroundings, I'll work on."

Alec shrugs, "That would depend on the exercise. Sometimes I won't let you touch anyone in the commision of the act. The lesson being not to get caught, and if you're caught, learning how to get away without cheating or telling everyone within eyeball distance that you're Evo."

"Without cheating… we're stealing from people, but we're supposed to have rules about how we get caught or not?" she says with a frown. "And yeah, I get that I shouldn't let people know that, but if I'm going to get thrown in jail or killed or something — the risk might be worth it." She shrugs. "So how do I get away 'without cheating'?"

Alec chuckles and eyes her, "Yes. There are rules to everything. Being a thief does not mean we are without ethics. We have a code we uphold. But we'll get to that later, for now…" he points to the crowd walking past them, "Talk to me about them."

March 6th: Only A Bad Girl Lies
March 6th: Error Margin
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